Thursday, July 28, 2016

Brainstorm Vol 80: Back to school books for all subjects

Next week is the first week back to school for us, so here’s a little bit of something for every subject. I won't do separate activity tie-ins for this Brainstorm since I'm designating subjects prior to the books but the elements are still here within the reviews for each book.

All Classes

The Black Lagoon series by Mike Thaler, ill. by Jared Lee
If you want a great way to break the ice, dispel fears, and open up a discussion about expectations for the school year, pick up any of the picture books in this series. And the best part? (Ok, the best part other than that they are all hilarious and kids and adults alike love them.) There’s one for just about any role at a school. From the principal to the cafeteria lady to the librarian, there’s one of you from the Black Lagoon. Of course, being a media center specialist, I’m quite partial to the Librarian from the Black Lagoon. (I am sometimes envious of my mythical counterpart and her laminator and bolted books.)

English (& Psychology)

Sleep Like a Tiger by Mary Logue, ill. by Pamela Zagarenski
A little girl is not sleepy, but her parents persuade her to get ready for bed any way. In the process, she asks them if all animals sleep and soon she finds herself imitating many of the animals she discussed with her parents as she curls up for sleep.

The illustration style for this book is definitely eye-catching, which is probably why it sports that shiny Caldecott Honor sticker. The art is very abstract and unique, not a style I usually like, but it really worked for this story. I love how tactful the little girl's parents are in getting her ready for bed. They should get some kind of parenting psychology award. Language arts teachers could use this when discussing similes and metaphors, which abound as the girl compares her actions to that of other sleepy animals.


One Grain of Rice: a mathematical folktale by Demi
Set in India, a clever servant girl outwits a sinister Raja by asking for a seemingly simple thing – just one grain of rice - and asking him to double it every day. The Raja quickly realizes that this “simple” request will cost quite a lot more than he expected.

I love several things about this book. It has a great multicultural setting and beautifully rich pictures that students love. It also lends itself well to being used in a math class, whether for those just learning multiplication or those learning about exponential equations and helps students visualize these principles.


A Drop of Water: a book of science and wonder by Walter Wick
A survey of the properties and states of water, illustrated with photographs of each.

This was a clearly written and stunningly photographed introduction to the properties and states of water. I wish I had known about this when I taught the properties of water in Biology. It’s a great resource and is explained simply enough you can use it with a wide age range, from elementary up to high school. And though this is almost 20 years old now, it has aged extremely well. None of the science or photos are dated.

Social Studies (& Foreign Language, & Logic, & ABCs)

Hieroglyphs from A to Z by Peter de Manuelian
Teaches some Egyptian hieroglyphs, specifically those eventually used to stand for single sounds that coordinate with the English alphabet. The back of the book includes messages in hieroglyphics for readers to decode and stencils so they can make their own messages.

For some reason I had only ever heard about the first phase of hieroglyphic language, picture representation for a complete object/thought and not the second development of symbols to stand for certain letters. So I learned multiple things from this book, not only the evolution of hieroglyphs and how they were used in language but also the ones that correspond to the English alphabet (a couple are repeated because the ancient Egyptians didn't have a v and didn't differentiate between soft e and i, which is actually rather similar to Korean - another alphabet I know - so I caught on to this idea very quickly). I love codes and the puzzle of learning foreign alphabets, so this was exactly my kind of book. Each letter also tells a bit about the importance of the object in the hieroglyph to ancient Egyptians, so you get to know that too. Oh, and this is an ABC book in rhyme too, so it can be used with multiple levels. It’s very informative and fun, without being overwhelming. Definitely a tool to be used in ancient Egypt studies with kids.

Foreign Language (& Social Studies)

Magic Windows/Ventanas Magicas by Carmen Lomas Garza
Carmen Lomas Garza uses her cut paper illustrations as ways to introduce various parts of Mexican culture.

This is a much shorter book than it looks, primarily because the text is repeated, appearing both in English and Spanish. Garza's cut paper artwork is incredible. Seriously, I can't believe what she can do with a knife and a sheet of paper! And she does a good job of giving a broad introduction to various parts of Mexican culture that kids would find interesting. A good multicultural pick that will also let students practice their Spanish.

PE (& English, & Science, & Government, & ESL…)

Thing Explainer: Complicated Stuff in Simple Words by Randall Munroe
One of my favorite humor books is also a science nerdy book called What If? by this guy. So when I heard he had a new book coming out, I was eager to get my hands on it. A continuation of What If? this is not. An extremely creative breakdown of things both fantastic and ordinary, it is. There are already books out there that tell you how your home mechanics and other machines work, but I guarantee this one is different. Munroe decided to use only the 1,000 most used words in the English language (minus variations of themselves and minus swear words) for all his explanations (a complete list of the available words is in the back of the book). So big technical jargon is out, language even a young elementary student or brand new English speaker can understand is in. And using only the most common of words, Munroe manages to explain extremely complicated things like machines for burning cities (atomic bombs), sky boats with turning wings (helicopters), power boxes (batteries), playing fields (basics of baseball, soccer, football, hockey & racquetball), red world space car (Mars rover), and more. Of course, Randall Munroe being who he is, he can't resist sneaking in little stick figures doing crazy things into the serious drawings (you have to pay close attention to notice these). Because of the simplified language, at times it's like playing a game of Taboo to figure out what Munroe is talking about. But for the most part, he does an impressive job of breaking things down in very easy terms, and this truly is a book just about any age could pick up and get the gist out of. A great resource.

Teachers need to take a look at this! I would have totally used his periodic table or cell diagram to help students review for tests when I was teaching biology. (You could actually use them in a matching section of a test since the technical terms are not used.) The US Constitution is also broken down on one page, so history teachers heads up too. His break down of the basics of major sports is impressive for its comprehensiveness in the basics of each game and also succinctness, PE teachers. And language teachers, though this is the exact opposite of what we usually want writers to do (use basic words instead of more precise and descriptive words), he does do a great job of summarizing succinctly.


Name That Style: All about Isms in Art by Bob Raczka
A quick survey of 14 of the major art styles from the Renaissance to modern times. Each style is covered in a two page spread that provides one full page example of a piece of art of that style, a quick description of what makes the style distinct, when and where the style was popular, 5 of the most recognized artists who used the style, bullet points of the major characteristics of the style, and a paragraph explaining why the piece of art displayed is a good example of that style.

This is a fantastic quick survey of all of these styles. It is short, concise, to the point, but conveys all the necessary information. I also liked that half of the pieces of art aren't the typical ones used when talking about that style. A few of them I had never even seen before. Because of it's nice concise nature, this book has a broad variety of applications. It could be used in elementary through high school art classes when introducing a new art style. It could be used in history classes to tie in art with the time period being studied. And I know those studying for the Humanities CLEP test could use this to do a quick review of art styles. From Kindergarten through college, a useful resource.
P.S. None of the art chosen has any naked people in it or gore, another bonus.

Music (& Art)

Ben’s Trumpet by Rachel Isadora
Ben listens to the music coming out of the jazz club down the street and can't help but imagine up his own horn. The music carries him away. But when others make fun of Ben, his trumpet disappears, until the jazz club performer sets things straight.

I just picked this up to read recently, and though I'm sure I've read this Caldecott honor book before, I did not remember the stunning artwork throughout. I guess the little kid me liked the story of the boy falling in love with music and getting music lessons more (which isn't surprising, because I ended up a music major...well, at least for one year). With an adult's eyes, I still like the music story (it's still in me), but I also found the artwork stunning and well-worthy of that shiny sticker on the front. I don't know of any other children's book quite like it art-wise. (And I think I probably didn't appreciate it as a child because though I've always loved art, I preferred colorful and "pretty" stuff as a child.) I can see modern kids also missing the forest for the trees, but perhaps like me they'll appreciate different aspects of the story as they grow with it.


Secret Coders (Secret Coders, #1) by Gene Luen Yang, ill. by Mike Holmes
Hopper's mom has enrolled her at Stately Academy. Hopper is not thrilled about her new school which looks like a haunted house and is sadly lacking in friend material. But thanks to some strange birds that hang out around the school, she eventually does make a friend, Eni, who teaches her some basics about coding. And the coding knowledge lets Hopper and Eni start cracking some of the secrets of the very strange Stately Academy. (Which will be explored further in book 2.)

A short and unique graphic novel. The book introduces young readers to some of the basics of binary code and computer programming, but it also has a plot. Well, two plots really, a mysterious plot and a human interest plot. We've got the mystery of what in the world is going on at the school, and then there's the side story of why Hopper is new to the school and what's been going on in her home life. Those who speak Mandarin will get a teensy bit more out of this book than the rest of the world, as there are a few things written just in Mandarin when Hopper is in Mandarin class. I liked the multicultural cast and the puzzles included in this. I think it will appeal to kids, and they'll be clamoring for book two to come out. (There's a bit of a cliffhanger ending.)


The Biggest Story: How the Snake Crushers Brings Us Back to the Garden by Kevin DeYoung, ill. by Don Clark
DeYoung condenses the Bible stories to focus on some of the overarching themes and points that can get lost in normal Bible story books or finer reading. He does so in language that can be accessible even to children (though there are definitely some points that may need adult help to understand). The book is illustrated in vibrant, eye-catching illustrations.

Our school is a Christian school, and Bible is one of our subjects. This is a great resource for Christian families and schools. It is easy to lose sight of some of the broad themes of the Bible in normal daily reading (unless you do some major survey reading regularly). The illustrations are attractive and unlike any I’ve seen for a Bible story book. I think they’ll appeal to a broad range of kids, making the book usable for little ones and even teenagers.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Brainstorm Vol 79: Wordless Graphic Novels

As promised last week, here are some wordless graphic novels to enjoy. Oh, and one comic. Again, I'm mixing things up and sharing activity tie-ins/target readers that will apply to all up front instead of individually.

Activity Tie-ins/Target Readers
NOTE: All the ideas shared last week for wordless books can be applied to wordless graphic novels as well, though, as graphic novels tend to be longer, writing a complete story to go along with the pictures could be a bigger project. Perhaps just pick a section of the story if you choose to put words to the pictures for a graphic novel or just have readers summarize the story in written words.

  • Observation vs Inferences: I just thought of this further exercise that wordless graphic novels and wordless books. Science classes tend to be the ones that need to teach the differences between observations and inferences. Wordless books are perfect for practicing this, because when we read them we take what we observe (i.e. a giraffe whose eyebrows are slanted inward and mouth is curved downward, has a bump on it’s head and who is facing a rock.) and make inferences about them (the giraffe is glaring angrily at the rock because it hit him in the head) to make the story come alive. Wordless graphic novels usually require some very careful observations, perhaps even multiple readings to put together inferences.
  • Making Predictions & Revising Predictions: Good readers are constantly making predictions and trying to figure out what is going on in a story. Wordless graphic novels, especially imaginative ones require frequent hypothesis formulation and revisions as to what is going on in the story. (Leaf by Ma is especially good for exercising this reading skill.)
  • Making Connections: Wordless graphic novels also provide a great opportunity to exercise another reading skill, making connections between what you know and what is going on in the story. If we didn’t make connections between what we knew and the story the book is trying to tell, the authors would find their job super hard. The Arrival by Tan is a great one to use to illustrate making connections between previous knowledge and the world you live in to understand the strange world the man in the story finds himself in.
  • Not Just for Kids: I mentioned last week that wordless books are great at being timeless and appeal to a wide variety of ages. I want to reinforce that again, and point out that many of the titles below have subtle and intricate plot points that will totally go over the heads of little ones. These aren’t just for kids, and frequently, they are best appreciated by teens and adults who can follow the sophisticated plot flow. In other words, wordless graphic novels are for everyone. Go on out there and give them a shot.
  • Read Books by Foreign Authors/Illustrators: If you want to expand your reading horizons and experience what some authors from other countries have to offer, one of the easiest ways to venture into the foreign book world is when language isn’t an issue. Of the author/illustrators below, Ma and Guojing are from China, Ponzi and Sanna are from Italy, Tan is Australian, Tofield is British, and Varon and Runton are American.

Leaf by Daishu Ma
A man finds a strange leaf that glows. He tries to track down where it came from, and in the process discovers it may be the key to restoring his drab city.

This graphic novel featuring a multicultural city is brand new from Chinese illustrator Daishu Ma. It is wordless, but that doesn't mean it is simple. I actually had to read it twice to make sure I understood what was going on. Even now, I think I know, but some of it is open to interpretation. It appears to be a dystopian world missing natural light and the leaf discovery helps change that. That was my understanding, but perhaps other readers will discover something I missed. The illustrations are incredible. Color is spare, mostly shades of grey with touches of yellow on some pages and touches of blue on other pages (the color seems to be significant to understanding the story flow). I know it seems strange to suggest a wordless book for a book club, but this one could generate a lot of conversations starting with #1, what readers understand is going on.

The Arrival by Shaun Tan
A man leaves his daughter and wife to find a place for them in a new land. The new country has strange words, strange food and is horribly confusing and daunting for the man. But eventually he starts to find some work, make friends, and figure out what some words mean and what foods to eat. And one glorious day his daughter and wife are finally able to join him.

This is definitely my favorite wordless graphic novel for a number of reasons. It beautifully illustrates - both in art and emotions - the plights of an immigrant coming to a strange new country without a single word. I think it is even more powerful in that the land the man comes to is strange and alien to anyone on Earth. It is a fantasy world, the language is nonsense, the food is bizarre, and the transportation methods are incredible. So readers at first will likely be just as confused as the man, but there are enough clues to help them figure out what is going on. One of the reasons I love this is that I totally understand this man’s confusion on coming to a strange land with a new language and culture. I’m an expat in a foreign country and work at an international school full of students who also identify with this experience. I am grateful that it helps readers step into the shoes of expats, immigrants, and refugees in a creative and eye-catching way.

The Journey of the Penguin by Emiliano Ponzi
A lonely penguin makes his way from Antarctica to England, where he lands himself a role as the trademark for a publishing company.

A charmingly illustrated book that pretty much tells the tale entirely through illustrations. There's one poster with words and photos with people's names below them, but that's it for the story. I was afraid a book made in tribute to a publishing company might be cheesy (it was made for Penguin Books 80th), but this was fun and enjoyable, and didn't feel forced. It could stand on it's own without the back story. Of course, that could just be the penguin lover in me talking. Only one thing about the book bothered me. There's a polar bear in Antarctica at the beginning. It must have been very, very, very lost.

The Only Child by Guojing
A small child is on their own and decides to go visit Grandma. The child is lost on the way, and befriends an elk (or deer) who takes the child on an amazing adventure before helping the little one find home again.

According to the author's note, this wordless story was inspired by the personal experience of the author when she was young in China. She talks about the loneliness of being an only child in China, and a time when she got lost on her way to her Grandmother's that all show up in this story. The illustrations in this are incredibly warm and full of heart. They look soft enough to pet. The story is tender, imaginative, and beautiful. It also provides an interesting insider's perspective of implications of the One Child Policy.

The River by Alessandro Sanna
A mostly wordless picture book (there are just four pages introducing the seasonal sections with words) that looks into life along a river in older Italy throughout one year.

An impressive amount of artistic work went into making this book. I'm glad for the intro to each section as otherwise some of the pictures would be a little harder to interpret due to the illustration style.

Robot Dreams by Sara Varon
Dog makes a robot friend for himself and takes him on a beach vacation. They both have fun until robot gets stuck laying on the beach after the water fun. Dog can't budge the robot, so he has to leave him. So we get to see what happens to the robot over the course of a year, and when things aren't really happening, what the robot daydreams happens. Meanwhile, the dog is doing his best to get the robot back, but circumstances are definitely against him.

I had heard a lot of good stuff about this graphic novel, but in all the stuff I heard about it, I did not hear that it was practically wordless. The story is almost entirely told through pictures. This is a cute story, and surprisingly doesn't quite end the way I expected it to. Some readers may like it, others may be disappointed it isn’t quite the happy ending they would have written. One thing is sure, readers will have opinions about the way Varon ended this story.

Owly: The Way Home & The Bittersweet Summer (Owly, #1) by Andy Runton
Owly is a bird with a big heart. In the first story of this graphic novel, Owly saves a little worm and then helps him find his family. In the second tale, Owly and Wormy use their garden to make new friends, two hummingbirds.

These tales are almost wordless. But there are a couple pages at the end of “The Bittersweet Summer” that use words to explain what is going on. Still, kids of all ages should be able to "read" the story and get the gist of it whether they can grasp all of the words included or not. The story is sophisticated enough that middle grade readers will probably also enjoy Owly's adventures. A great pick for kids who love animals and graphic novels. Owly has several books of adventures out and just about all of them are wordless. Some kids may be disappointed that most of the Owly books are just black and white though.

Simon's Cat by Simon Tofield
The antics of a cat who finds all sorts of domestic adventures.

Ok, I know. This isn't technically a graphic novel it is a collection of short comic strips, but I couldn't resist throwing it in here. Simon's Cat started as short, wordless animated cartoons on YouTube. This book is a print collection of those stories. They are still wordless and are quite humorous. And they are very popular with students here. Anyone who has a cat will appreciate the humor of these comics because Mr Tofield obviously understands cats. There are now numerous books out, and of course, you can enjoy the videos online too. Mr Tofield also does a good job of sharing about the animating process and pet care on the Simon's Cat YouTube channel as well.

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Brainstorm Vol 78: Favorite Wordless Books

I love a good story, and I love the beauty of words put together just right. But there’s also something to be said for an artist who can convey a story complete with a whole slew of emotions with no words. So I also have a soft spot for wordless books. I get excited about their potential in engaging creativity. An 18 month old can totally enjoy a wordless story all by themselves and get a ton out of the experience. They are learning so many things about the way books and stories work in the process. And what do toddlers naturally do when “reading” to themselves? Start to put words to the pictures. Hand the same book to an 18 year old who thinks they can’t write a story, and see what kinds of words will flow from their pens to match the illustrations. And perhaps that’s one of the things I like the most about wordless books, they are ageless. They appeal to the little one who just likes the fact that there’s a kitty on the pages or to the adult who is marvelling at the illustrative genius of the author. And they have endless applications for activity extensions. Before I introduce some of my favorite wordless picture books, here’s some activity tie-ins/target audience ideas that will apply to all of them. Not that you should need a reason to enjoy a wordless book.

10 Favorite Wordless Books (in no particular order)

Activity Tie-ins/Target Readers:

  • Speech Prompts for Therapy, Language Practice, or Public Speaking: Whether you’re trying to bring a kid or adult out of their shell for whatever reason they retreated there, or just getting someone new to a language to practice it, wordless books provide a safe framework to guide the conversation. Just ask them to tell the story in their own words or engage them in a conversation about which aspects of the art or story appealed to them. You can also use wordless books as props for public speaking exercises, have the person make up a story in words to go with the illustrations.
  • Writing Practice: Putting words to a wordless book story can take a host of different writing directions. You can let someone practice writing in a new language. You can have them tell the story from certain view points or tenses. You can have them write commentary on the story or practice writing dialogue. The possibilities are numerous. If you’re looking for a prompt for writing, wordless books provide a framework that is easy to build on in a variety of ways.
  • Interpreting Emotions & Art: Many kids that have some type of autism have a hard time reading emotional clues. Wordless books that convey emotion have to do that entirely through the illustrations of body language, without words, which is the way we humans often convey our emotions too. It’s a safe way for these kids to practice reading emotions. Similarly, art classes frequently talk about conveying moods and wordless authors are masters of this. Art classes can analyze how they get us to feel and to understand the characters without words.
  • Visual Acuity: Kids with visual problems related to eye muscles and focusing capabilities will probably like wordless books better than other books since they don’t have to try and follow a tiny row of type, but they will still get some good eye exercise (probably more than they realize) and learn the power of fun in books. 
  • Ageless Read: Anyone can read a wordless book, no matter their reading level. It makes for a nice safe, fun, no pressure reading choice.
  • Stands up to Multiple Readings: Because you have to pay close attention to the illustrations, often wordless books are best enjoyed only after multiple reads. If you want a book that will stand up to multiple readings and not grow old, pick a wordless one.

Spot the Cat by Henry Cole
A spotted cat wanders out a window one day after a bird. The cat is off on an adventure all over the city, while the boy grows worried and starts looking for it. Eventually the two both make their way back home and reunite.

A simple story, but incredibly detailed illustrations. There are no words, and the main point of the book is to find the cat in each of the places where it has wandered. The black and white nature of the illustrations make this hide-and-seek even more challenging. A great book to while away a few minutes with.

Flora and the Penguin by Molly Idle
Flora and the Penguin have a great time ice skating together until there's a little misunderstanding. Not to worry, though, because the two friends quickly work out their misunderstanding.

Molly Idle has two other Flora books. Flora and the Flamingo, which won a Caldecott Honor, and Flora and the Peacocks, newly out this year. All are wordless and lift-the-flap books. I haven’t gotten to read Flora and the Peacocks yet (so sad!), but I have enjoyed Flora and the Flamingo in addition to this one. Flora and the Flamingo is more of a fun little book with not much message, but this one has a nice little lesson about working out misunderstandings. (The penguin gives Flora a fish as a sign of its friendship, but Flora flings it away which upsets the penguin.) It would segue easily into discussions with kids about what to do when there's a misunderstanding with a friend or sibling. You could also talk about how a treasure to one person can seem worthless to another person.

Bluebird by Bob Staake
A lonely little boy meets a bluebird on his way home from school and makes an unexpected friend who helps him find other friends and some courage.

I love the artwork and the cute story line in this book.

Flashlight by Lizi Boyd
A boy leaves his tent and explores the woods with his flashlight, finding all sorts of critters active in the dark.

This is a wordless book, but it is just jam-packed with illustrations. And the fact that much of the illustrations are grey on black, mean this one requires more than one read to absorb all that is going on. A great book to use when talking about nocturnal critters. Check out Lizi Boyd’s other wordless book Inside Outside too.

Unspoken by Henry Cole
A girl discovers a runaway slave hiding in the corn crib. Instead of exposing him, she decides to help him by slipping him food.

A great wordless picture book exploration of runaway slaves and how a little girl could have helped one. You have to read the author's note on this one. He explains how the Civil War is part of his family history and started to interest him, and why he chose to tell this particular story and in wordless book format. (And yes, this is the same guy who created the first book in this list.)

Tuesday by David Wiesner
One Tuesday night the frogs in town suddenly can fly. They have quite the adventure and leave a mystery in their wake.

David Wiesner is one of my favorite authors. I adore his books, and this one is my favorite of his, though Sector 7 and Mr. Wuffles are close seconds of his wordless books. This is the book that made me fall in love with wordless books. I love the artistry, and how he effectively tells a humorous story hardly using any words. I've used this in so many ways in teaching and tutoring, whether getting emergent readers ready to read by having them tell me the story or having older students write the words to go with the story, or teaching about foreshadowing. There’s also a story starter at the end of the book that can be easily used to prompt readers to create a sequel.

The Girl and the Bicycle by Mark Pett
A little girl sees a shiny green bicycle in the store window and puts her mind to getting it. She figures out ways to make money around the neighborhood, and in the process develops a friendship with one older neighbor lady. Seasons pass and eventually the girl has saved enough money to finally buy the bike, but when she goes to purchase it, the bike is gone. Obviously saddened, the girl decides to give joy to someone else with her hard-earned money (view spoiler)and is later rewarded with an unexpected surprise (view spoiler).

This book almost evaded my notice, which would have been a real shame. First off, I love, love, love wordless books for the pre-reading skills they build and endless activities they lend themselves to. Secondly, I really liked Pett's illustration style of blacks and whites on brown with rare touches of color. The people are drawn somewhat cartoonish and cute, but it lends itself well to the story. Pett is able to do so much with so little, which is a must since there are no words. But most of all what I'm glad I didn't miss was the story itself; it is inspiring and endearing. There's also lots of little things going on in the background so that this promises new discoveries for several re-readings. Don't let the subtle coloring and title of this book make it slip your notice. It's a treasure, and you'll be glad for the read.

A great book to talk to kids about saving money, thinking up ways to earn money, and about generosity.

Float by Daniel Miyares
A little boy makes a paper boat and takes it outside in the rain to watch is sail. The first puddle he tries is a rather unimpressive journey. But when he puts the boat in the gutter stream, the boat's adventure is a bit more exciting than expected. It also doesn't end well, but a new journey is promised with a paper airplane.

The emotions that Miyares is able to get across without the use of any words is impressive. There aren't many colors used other than those on the boy and the boat, but I still think they would draw in children just as well as adults. Kids will like the instructions for making paper boats and airplanes on the endpapers.

You Can’t Take a Balloon into the National Gallery by Jacqueline Preiss Weitzman, ill by Robin Press Glasser
The little girl from You Can't Take a Balloon into the Metropolitan Museum of Art has learned her lesson that balloons and art museums don't mix. So when she heads into the National Gallery in Washington D.C. she leaves her balloon with a photographer outside. But an accident happens and the balloon gets loose. Soon, the photographer and a growing group of helpers are chasing the balloon all over Washington D.C. in attempts to retrieve it before the little girl gets out of the museum. Frames are also shown of the art the girl is seeing, and frequently, life where the balloon is is imitating the art. Mixed into the crowds throughout the adventures are important American historic figures (a full list is found in the back of the book).

Love the way this wordless book series combines fun and art appreciation, and in this one gives you a tour of Washington D.C. too. There's so much going on you'll definitely have to read and re-read and re-read this one. And don’t forget to check out the rest of the series, You Can’t Take a Balloon into the Metropolitan Museum of Art and You Can’t Take a Balloon into the Museum of Fine Arts.

Shadow by Suzy Lee 
A little girl, alone in the attic with a back light, a pile of miscellaneous stuff and a great imagination has a grand wordless adventure before dinner.

This book starts so subtly I missed what was going on during the first couple of spreads and had to restart the book. Pay close attention to the shadows, they start changing with the little girl's imagination (as real shadows are ever so likely to do). A fantastic piece of artwork and a tribute to the powers of imagination. Be sure to also read Suzy Lee’s other wordless book, Wave.

There’s too many fantastic wordless books! I couldn’t even include all my favorites here. Here’s some other top favorites, but there are lots and lots more great wordless books out there. And next week I’ll share some favorite wordless graphic novels.

The Farmer and the Clown by Marla Frazee

Sidewalk Flowers by JonArno Lawson, ill. by Sydney Smith

The Lion and the Mouse by Jerry Pinkney

A Ball for Daisy by Chris Raschka

Pool by JiHyeon Lee

Chalk by Bill Thomson

Zoom by Istvan Banyai

Journey and Quest by Aaron Becker
(And keep an eye out for book 3 in this series, Return coming this August!)

Rainstorm by Barbara Lehman